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02 Nov 2019

An early-career experience at the 14th RDA Plenary in Helsinki

I am a Ph.D. candidate at the Carlos III University of Madrid in Spain. My research focuses on analyzing the role of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with sustainability from a bibliometric perspective. Moreover, I am involved in a European Project called and, as a result, we have a science shop which aims to connect society with science by identifying societal problems and co-work together in order to find solutions. Participatory methodologies (e.g. co-creation events, knowledge cafés) and citizen science activities are held within the framework of the project and have changed the perspective of my dissertation. Thanks to the RDA Europe Early Career Researcher grant program, I was able to attend the 14th RDA Plenary in Helsinki in which I could connect with the international RDA community and be able to attend and participate in the discussions that were held. This year, the topic of the conference was ‘Data makes the difference’. First, I have to admit I was surprised with the conference methodology held in RDA: working/interest groups/birds of a feather make a more proactive community, enhancing the collaboration between the community.

From this perspective, I attended to different working groups. The first one was the Early Career and Engagement Interest Group (IG). It was a very welcoming experience for the RDA, especially in my stage (and for the people I was able to meet there). At the very beginning, there was a welcome and an introduction to the purpose of the interest group in which was highlight that the main aim is to support early-career researchers.  It was stated that this group could act as an entry point for anyone entering RDA, to be a bridge between early careers and newcomers. Also, as a bridge between early-careers and researchers and professionals in the early and mid-career stages or also professionals who want to mentor this group. For achieving that purpose, there is a volunteer-based mentoring program. This mentoring program is composed of mentors and mentees and we had the opportunity to meet some of the mentors on the session (e.g. Shaun de Witt, Raman from University of Viena…). Within this program, there are different channels of communication like a Github page or Stack Channel.  It was also mentioned the monthly organized Ask-Me-Anything calls (commonly known as or AMA meetings). The next AMA will be about ‘Visualising open data using open software’ (November), ‘Software Source Code Identification /Software Citation’ (December) and are open to new proposals. In addition, it was mentioned the newsletter as a result of the group with the idea to collect information on topics of potential interest. After that, it was followed by an introduction of the participants, highlighting their research, their relevance to RDA and their expectations. I think in my stage this group is very interesting, especially to participate in this mentoring program and I could gain some very valuable insights or practical skills of it.

I also attended the Data Usage Metrics (DUM) Working Group (WG) that aim is to standardize metrics with usage metrics (i.e. views or downloads) for data. It was mentioned that the scope was a document with tangible types of data that this WG will be addressing and to build a comprehensive list of use cases that cover the broad spectrum of types of usage metrics that may apply to research data. The main purpose was to use the use cases and build a recommendation for community guidance on what data types/repository types of usage metrics to implement. At the beginning of the session, there was a presentation of the overview of the group. Later, there was an update of the ‘Make Data Count’, project that hosted a Birds of Feather at RDA Plenary 10. They created a data usage standard, called ‘COUNTER Code of Practice for Research Data’. It was also mentioned they began to utilize central infrastructure for aggregations. After that, there was a presentation of ‘Shortcoming of Data Usage Metrics’ by Tobias Weber in which talked about the metrics shortcomings (e.g. duplication, normalization…) identified in the 13th Data Plenary, how this can be categorized and how can community can help (e.g. in the Github group). Finally, there was a discussion on the future of the group and recommendations in which topics such as incentives or the top priorities of the group were discussed. It was very interesting to see the connection with the bibliometrics community.

The last group I attended was the ESIP/RDA Earth, Space, and Environmental Sciences Interest Group (IG). Considering the ESIP community are developing practices of data management or common data/digital services, among others, the main work of this group is the coordination of and harmonization of a) efforts to reduce duplication, increase efficiency, share use cases and promote partnerships and b) cross-domain initiatives to accelerate the uptake of ESES data in other domains. At the very beginning of the session, there was an introduction of participants- it was very surprising the high number of people interested in this IG. After that was was a review of the current status of the group and the ESES IG catalogue. Later, there were presentations of the new collaborative projects within ESES data infrastructure: Envri FAIR & EPOS, PARSEC, New EarthCube office and Exascale/2030 projects including ChEESE. I was very surprised with the different initiatives presented and how the field has evolved.

Overall, this was a very good and enriching experience. As a result of the experience in the working groups and in the conference, this has helped me to rethink different aspects I should consider in my research regarding data and different insights I learned at the conference and talking with colleagues/experts on the field. I also want to highlight the opportunity to present the poster with my research and be able to receive feedback from experts from different backgrounds. Finally, I wish to once again express our gratitude for the opportunity to RDA Europe Early Career Programme for giving me the opportunity to join 14th RDA Plenary. I also hope to stay involved with RDA also in the future. I would also like to encourage anyone to apply for this research grant because I think it is a fantastic opportunity to meet new experts on the field, be involved in interesting conversations in the working groups and having the opportunity to attend a different conference.


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